Readings Josh 24:1-2, 15-18; Eph 5: 21-32; John 6:60-69.

By Rev. Deacon Stanford Sungani.

Today, is the 21st Sunday in the ordinary time and our readings are inviting all of us to reflect on various choices that we make in our daily endeavors. God through the readings is giving us an opportunity on whether to choose Him or not. As Catholics what do we want to choose between God and the evil one? And what kind of choices do we make?

Brethren, when God created us, He gave each one of us a meritorious gift of freedom which we use in choosing what is desirable to us. It is very clear and distinct that we Catholics today are the beneficiaries of this gift of freedom. You can agree with me that, each one of us today exercise their freedom freely and in that regard we see that choice is one of the most important things in our human life.

All of us make choices in life. To begin with, we all made a choice to become Catholics, and apart from being mere Catholics some of us chose married life and others chose priesthood or consecrated and religious life. However, every choice that each one of us makes has its rights, duties, obligations and consequences. For instance, those of us who chose married life, there is an expected pattern of behavior that we ought to exhibit and obligations that we ought to follow. The same scenario applies also to those of us who chose priesthood or religious life. Good choices have bearable and delightful consequences while poor choices have an unbearable and unpleasant consequences.

In today’s first reading and the Gospel, we encounter two groups of people who have been given a chance to use their freedom to choose to follow God or not. In the first reading, we meet Joshua and the Israelites who without hesitation have decided to serve God in their life. Likewise in the Gospel we meet St Peter and his companions who have also decided to remain with Jesus, when so many people have left Jesus for failing to understand Christ’s teaching on His body and Blood.

My dear friends, today God is also giving us a chance to follow him or not. Of course some of us would say, we already made that choice at Baptism. Again, some of us would say that apart from at Baptism, we made another choice, by following Christ through the vocations of priesthood or religious life and married life. However, today we are all being challenged that it is not enough to be baptized, to profess as a religious sister or to be ordained a priest. Because, every day, God expects us to answer the question, whether we want to keep on living with him or not. Because to be baptized, to be a religious sister, to be a priest could be something easy, but to identify oneself with Jesus Christ is a difficult choice or decision.

 Do our everyday activities reveal that we are following Christ or not? It is very evident that, we for many times behave contrary to the demands of our choice. It might be because of our stubbornness, hardness of heart and sometimes because of our lack of faith in God. We choose to serve our own gods, such as pride, pompousness, intelligence, wealth and other interests. My dear friends, the two groups of people we have met today in our readings, (thus Joshua and the Israelites, Peter and his companions), should be our model of choice. These people chose to serve God because they realized that in God there is peace, comfort, love and above all, everything. It’s true that we are baptized Catholics and some of us are married and others are religious sisters and priests, but today we are reminded to make a choice, thus to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ whose words have eternal life and are the source of everything that exists. 

To we who chose married life, we are also being challenged today in a special way to be conscious of the choices that we make in our families. Many marriages today are in disarray because of the poor and bad choices that we married couples make. If I may ask, what kind of choices do we make as husbands and wives? As the second reading has already alluded to, do we wives respect our husbands? And do we husbands love our wives? Do we as married couples listen to the advice of others? Do we love prayers?

Let us all use today’s readings as an opportunity to make an important choice of choosing God and continuing to identify our marriage, priesthood or religious life and more significantly our daily choices with Jesus, the source of all wisdom so that He may increase in us the energy to protect our marriages and priesthood or religious life and serve the Lord with zeal and commitment. Therefore, my dear friends, today our song should be “I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS, NO TURNING BACK, NO TURNING BACK”